Public vs. Private Enforcement of Civil Rights: The Case of Housing and Employment

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40 Scopus citations


In this Article, Professor Michael Selmi contends that one important reason civil rights legislation has produced less change than originally expected is that most of the legislation entrusted principal enforcement to the federal government, and that enforcement has been seriously deficient over time. Through a detailed empirical analysis, this Article compares the efforts of public and private attorneys in enforcing fair housing and employment discrimination laws, and demonstrates that the government generally brings far fewer cases and receives substantially less relief than private attorneys. In both housing and employment, the government has concentrated its efforts on individual cases, focusing primarily on family status housing cases and age discrimination employment cases. The discrepancies between the two enforcement groups arise, Professor Selmi argues, from bureaucratic pressures that prod government attorneys to bring easy and noncontroversial cases as a means of avoiding the conflict that so readily accompanies civil rights enforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1458
Number of pages58
JournalUCLA Law Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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